Thursday, December 2, 2010

Post-BOW / Shaping My Nature Experience

All of my experiences at the MD DNR "Becoming An Outdoors Woman" added more dimensions to my appreciation of and self-renewal through nature. Now I have more ways to see more deeply what is going on around me. From exploring the natural history of the area, to the names of the trees, to the life around me -- whether critters, bugs, birds, fish, insects, plants, flowers, and on. Most of my time outdoors is spent being active; I don't intend to change that. But what I've learned at BOW will give me tools for some fun projects during my downtime outdoors in a campsite.

I started on the this journey with the simple goal of improving my fitness to go hiking in the Rockies. Early on, I re-discovered the peacefulness and spirituality of being in Nature.

Since then, I'm discovering the joy, fun, and simplicity of living a nice portion of my life outdoors. And a deeper and broader knowledge of the natural world around me.

The "game" is still on though! Now that I've slept somewhat-outdoors in temps in the 30s, the challenge is on: How long can I go sleeping outdoors?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sunrise at the Camp @ DNR's "BOW" program

Moonlight at the Camp @ DNR's "BOW" program

Full moon!

DNR: "Becoming An Outdoors Woman" / Reading the Woods

Just by coincidence, this was the last session of my stay. And it pretty much summed up and used all the other courses I had taken.

We spend the half-day in the woods, observing different things - plants, animal trails & habitat, invasive species, the effects of human behavior -- and talking about its purpose and how it got there and what it indicated about what was goingon.

The session started out with a fun game that highlighted my *dismal* powers of observation. We didn't know it, but on the first part of our trek, our instructor had placed pipecleaners. Colorful ones. And they weren't hidden. They were in plain view. The first time down the path, one person found one. No one else noticed any.  :(

The instructor told us about the game, and we headed back the way we came. With the goal of this time actually finding the pipecleaners. I think I saw 6.

Regrouping, the instructor told us there was more than 10. And taught us how to observe better. This time through the path, I found 13. I think overall, there was 16. Fun & enlightening game.

DNR: "Becoming An Outdoors Woman" / Twig Detective

In this class, we studied how to identify trees. The instructor started out by talking about dichotomous keys, and I was immediately lost.

But then we learned how to use them, kind of like written maps -- along the lines of the process of elimination -- to get to what kind of tree it is. Dichotomous keys are handy and fascinating.

Then we spent most of the half-day session out in the field, using the tools we just learned to identify the trees in the forest around us. It was fun to be trekking/bushwhacking in the woods, using our brains, and having a deeper and closer view of the woods around us.

I know I've taken a lot for granted during my hikes and other times spent in nature. An almost cavalier attitude of "it's just a tree". Now I'll be much more fascinated by and interested in exactly what I'm trekking through, and how it grew there.

The day kind of reminded me of the Ents in "The Lord of the Rings". And the Apple Trees in "Wizard of Oz". Yes, the trees are alive.

DNR: "Becoming An Outdoors Woman" / Tracks & Trails

I thought in this course we would learn to identify animal tracks. But it was So. Much. More.

So much to say about this course!

What did we learn about? Our power of observation. How people feel they are productive/how we feel we've accomplished something. Human behavior (humans are animals too, and they leave tracks ...). How to observe signs around the tracks, so you can form the whole story -- not just what animal was there, but what they were doing, where they came from. Was another animal stalking them?, did they run? was there a battle? or were they playing? What time of day is it? When was the last tide? Did it rain? How deep are the tracks. How to tell how long ago they were formed.

Just amazing the stories that are behind a simple track.

DNR: "Becoming An Outdoors Woman" / Map & Compass

My first course at DNR's "BOW" program was "Map & Compass". I've had a few short (like 1/2 hour) training sessions on using a compass, but I just didn't "get" it.

This course was a half-day. We learned all the details around a topographic map. I was kinda comfortable reading a topo map, enough to get myself out of trouble. But now I know more. We spent a lot of time learning how to properly use a compass. And now I get it! I need to keep using the skills so that I don't forget how to do it.

We concluded the class with a really fun game in a field where we were given compass readings that we had to follow and take notes of where we ended up. I did the route correctly! and quickly. So I did another one. It was a ton of fun!

The instructor told us that if enjoyed the game, we should try orienteering. Yikes, another fun thing to get myself into! I can't wait!

My Great Adventure! Dept of Natural Resources: Becoming An Outdoors Woman

October 21-24, 2010

On my first camping adventure, back in April, at Greenridge State Forest, the rangers had told me about this program: "Becoming An Outdoors Woman". I'm not sure if they told me about me because I had passed some test by actually surviving camping those two short days when it was clear I had no idea what I was doing; or, if they thought I'd better go get some training. Maybe both reasons.

So I signed up way-back-when. But ... the program is held in Garrett County, south of Deep Creek Lake. Like on the other side of the mountains.

All summer I debated whether I was going or not -- simply because of my fear of heights and the mountain driving. I got more & more nervous, but then also afraid that my fear of heights and mountain driving would just stop me from doing fun things. I had to face my fears and do it.

So I did all kinds of research on mountain driving and phobias, and for weeks, I mentally prepared myself. Or tried to. And I went and did it! Whew!

The program was phenomenal! There are all kinds of outdoor adventure courses you can take, ranging from sports to hunting to survival to cooking. They are geared from beginner level to advanced. All of the instructors are experts, personable, and approachable. Many of the participants have attended several times, so classes are becoming more advanced as we all learn more stuff. And the women who attended are adventurous, have interesting jobs, have traveled to so many places -- it was a great joy to socialize with so many fascinating people!

Camp Area:

Trail Maintenance Training: Middle Patuxent Environmental Area

Taking ... and Giving.
Not only do I want to reap the benefits of living closer to nature, but I want to make some contribution to its sustainability.  I signed up for trail maintenance duty with the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area. The training was in two parts: the first was lecture explaining the history of the area, what our roles would be, safety, etc. The second part was in the field, on a Saturday morning, learning what trail maintenance is all about. A good day. The park is very pretty too; again, an area so close to me that I had never explored.

Camping #4: Elk Neck State Park

Continuing on my quest ... Exploring as many camping areas as possible before the end of the season!

Elk Neck SP is fairly close to me. I had something to do on Saturday morning, but I thought I'd get in a quick trip to explore the park and campground so that I'd be familiar with it & could plan a longer excursion.

Oh, I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived!  It was a beautiful warm and sunny fall day. The foliage was so pretty. Some had fallen, so the campground was covered in color. And the views of the Elk River!: fabulous. A very pretty park. I ended up staying on Sunday much longer than I had expected; it was so relaxing!

Campground Description
There are a lot of sites, but arranged in loops. So it didn't feel like a huge place. But the sites are relatively close together, and not a lot of greenery buffer between sites. It didn't bother me too much because it was such a pretty park. Saturday afternoon was relaxing and quiet.

Each loop has a bath house: Maryland DNR-rustic. There are playgrounds scattered around the park, near the camp loops.

The tent sites are crushed gravel pads, level, with timber trimming to make sure you stay within the designated area. That keeps the sites neat & tidy, and minimizes the damage to the vegetation.

Still no creature noises. But lots of people noise. Kids/teens hanging out. Motorcycle dudes in the site next to me up til the wee hours of the morning. I got to a solid sleep about 1:30am. I think there's a mandatory party-group at every campground...

Again, pre-dawn choir of birds ... But the sunrise through all the fall foliage was beautiful. Sun rises are becoming my favorite part of camping.

On Sunday morning, instead of packing up early as originally planned, I stayed and wrote & read. The park was soooo relaxing. Most people packed up and left pretty early. So by noon, the park was very quiet. Just a few of us around. Quiet. Peaceful. At peace in nature.

My Campsite:

Looking forward to coming back here; often. It's a quick & easy trip.

My Gear List
Since this was a last-minute, quick-trip, I basically threw ALL of my normal stuff into the car.
  • Shelter: tent, fly, tarp
  • Bed: sleeping bag, pillows. New item: air mattress pad.
  • Other Essentials: headlamp; a flashlight from home; mini-compass/whistle; map of the park
  • Bathroom: garden spade for cat-hole, toilet paper, wipes. New item: nalgene bottle. Uhhh, I use that instead of crawling out of my tent in the middle of the night and peeing outdoors.
  • Personal Care: my overloaded tote bag of ...
  • First Aid: band-aids. One day I will assemble a proper first aid kit.
  • Camp Fire Supplies: fire starter material, matches, and lots of newspaper (still)
  • Kitchen Gear: All the gear: pot, pan, eating/cooking utensils; aluminum foil, ziploc bags for storage & trash; scrubber pad to wash dishes. There may have been more things I brought along ...
  • Food: I didn't keep good notes, but I think I experimented with ham, beef, apples. And I had my usual sandwich-stuff, yogurt, fruit & nuts
  • Clothing: the basic hiking/outdoor stuff and outerwear
  • Hiking Gear: hiking shoes; camelbak
  • Downtime Amusement: my Kindle & hiking/biking/camping books
  • Other / New Item: At the camp store, I bought an "entrance mat" for my tent - lol!
  • I love the new "entrance pad". It does help with keeping dirt out of the tent. Plus, it's comfy for my knees when I'm setting up/dismantling.
  • Through this trip, basically I was packing and taking everything that I "might"need, in order to figure out what I really do use.
  • Better Organization: I have all my "stuff" organized in separate tote bags, such as: cooking, personal care, fire, clothing, essentials.

Hike: Patapsco Valley State Park / Glen Artney area

[details to be posted later]

Short Evening Hike: Patapsco Valley State Park / Hilton area

[details to be posted later]

Hike: Patapsco Valley State Park

[details to be posted later]

Camping #3: Patapsco Valley State Park / Hilton area

Did I say I was hooked on sleeping outdoors? Now I'm on a quest ...

Selected PVSP for several reasons -  I wanted to go camping for two nights, not just one. I thought I'd stay someplace "local" in case things went dreadfully wrong. If so, I could just ... Get In My Car. And drive home.

Atmosphere / Campground Description
PVSP / Hilton area is very close. Very local. Like, just down the street in the middle of a residential area. Therefore it appeals to people who want to hang out with family and friends. It was noisy. This is where I began to learn that camping is not necessarily about peace, serenity, and solitude. A lot of people think of it as a party place.

The sites were large enough. There was some grassy, foliage, shrubbery-type "buffer" between the sites. I felt that I did have some privacy; although I could hear what was going on in the sites around me. My site though backed up to a wooded area / and the power line cut. So I had a nice view from my tent.

There's a bathhouse in the center of the loop. And a playground.

Overall Experience
But I did get to sleep outdoors and that was the goal. And I learned more about camping. Much more. Starting to grasp some necessary skills. I finally tackled building a campfire - I had something going.

My First Real Camp Fire!
The best part of camping here though is the rest of the park: marvelous trails! Beautiful scenery! Lots to do. This is a great place to use as a base camp and spend most of your time away from the campsite, doing lots of fun stuff.

On my hikes, I found beautiful, quiet, secluded spots -- perfect for reading, thinking, relaxing. [Notes about the hikes are in separate blog posts.]

"It's the Other People You Have to Worry About ..."
On of the things the camp host here at this park told me about is making sure I'm aware of the people around me. Study my neighbors. See what kind of people they are. Walk around the campground and be aware of who is around me. Great advice!

On Saturday night, the crowd two sites away from me stayed up late. Then they ended up knocking over their large lantern, full of propane fuel. The lit fuel ran through their site. I was in my tent, attempting to get some sleep, and heard: "F-k!" [they used the real f-word]. "F-k!" "F-k!" Then ... "Fire! Move the cars!"

I got out of my tent super-fast, fast enough to see their tent go: poof! Just a wall of orange-glow.

Since then, I now sleep with these items closest to me: my eyeglasses, car keys, blackberry - in case I need to make an emergency phone call.

Merit Badge / Skill
-- Successfully setting up a new tent! I used all the stakes, though I'm not sure what all the loops and strings and doo-dads are for
-- My first real camp fire!

My Tent/Campsite & The View From My Tent:

Sunrise on Saturday / View from My Tent:

A great base camp. I can spend a full day of hiking and biking, longer trips with short evening/morning hikes. I'd like to try camping here during the work week and heading to the office from here!

My Gear List
Lots of "stuff" is creeping into my car.
  • Shelter: A new tent! REI Mountain-3. I forgot to order the footprint when I bought the tent (do I have a mental block on those things???). So on the way to the campground I bought a tarp and used that as a footprint, as you can see in the photo.
  • Bed: sleeping bag, pillows
  • Other Essentials: headlamp; a flashlight from home; mini-compass/whistle; map of the park
  • Bathroom: garden spade for cat-hole, toilet paper. New item: wipes
  • Personal Care: my overloaded tote bag of ...
  • First Aid: band-aids
  • Camp Fire Supplies: fire starter material, matches, and lots of newspaper (still)
  • Kitchen Gear: I was determined to build a campfire and cook, so that means a whole new list/tote bag of supplies: pot, pan, eating/cooking utensils; aluminum foil, ziploc bags for storage & trash; scrubber pad to wash dishes. There may have been more things I brought along ...
  • Food: I didn't keep good notes, but I think I experimented with ham, beef, apples. And I had my usual sandwich-stuff, yogurt, fruit & nuts
  • Clothing: the basic hiking/outdoor stuff and outerwear
  • Hiking Gear: hiking shoes; camelbak
  • Downtime Amusement: my Kindle & hiking/biking/camping books
  • Need to pare down what I bring with me.

Bike: York County Heritage Rail/Trail

New opportunities open up: camping can be a base for doing other outdoor fun activities!
On the way home from Codorus, I was a little bit disappointed. I ended my trip somewhat earlier in the day than I had wanted to because of the rain.

As I got closer to the interstate, it had stopped raining. That's when I remembered the Rail/Trail! The way home put me right at it. So I pulled into a parking lot, got my bike set up, and biked for an hour or so.


Now the whole camping idea is taking on more dimensions. Not only do I find peace and serenity being out in nature, I can use camping as a base to do other things. Instead of driving for hours, doing something fun, then driving all those hours again to get home, I now can have fun, sleep outdoors in a campsite, do more fun things the next day -- and then drive home. Brilliant!  Did I say I was hooked on camping? I am now!

Short Hike: Codorus State Park

During my camping adventure, I took a hike on the trail around the lake. Part of it was single-track (very nice); much of it was poorly marked (not so nice) - but kind of tough to get lost as you were only going around the lake.

This would be a really nice place to go in autumn and see the fall foliage.

On the far side of the lake were mountain bike trails. But because it rained on Sunday, I decided it would be safer to not go exploring them in the rain.

Hike Details:
No elevation gain. Mix of single- and double-track. Some tiny stream crossings, with path bridges. Some open areas (such as the historic cemetery); in those areas, the trail markings were difficult to find - if at all.

Re-start Camping! Excursion #2 / Codorus State Park / Uhh, how does this tent get set up?

Discovering the utter relaxation of sleeping in the rain!

Finally! I decided to head out for another camping adventure. I selected Codorus State Park because it was relatively close by, and I could combine camping with a few other play-time activities.

On Saturday, I headed up I-83, stopping at Shrewsbury Market and a farm festival. I had a marvelous lunch of roast pork, sauerkraut, sweet potatoes. And bought lots of fruit and baked goodies at an orchard/farm stand. This camping life isn't exactly roughing it ...

Atmosphere / Campground Description
Codorus State Park was dramatically different than Greenridge State Forest. The park surrounds a reservoir and much of the "campground" is dedicated to RVs. The tent sites are a little off by themselves, but relatively close together. This was nothing like the isolated, private sites in the forest. I'm beginning to learn the difference between back-country camping and front-country/organized campgrounds.

But, OK - I can enjoy sleeping outdoors in nature, and begin learning all the skills I really should have anyway.

The tent sites were close to a lake, very pretty, very calm & relaxing. Which really is what I needed anyway.

Again, I didn't attempt building a campfire, relying on cold food and snacks.

Bathhouse: the campground had a bathhouse! I didn't use the shower, but it was nice to have a place to freshen up.

Tent Assembly - sort of
Since it's been like six months since my last (and first) camping experience, I could not remember how to properly set up my tent. I had all these poles and gadgets and no clue where they were supposed to go. I got the tent up in some way, but not the right way. It was kind of like just propped up. [Note to Self: review tent assembly instructions before heading out ...]

Went on a nice hike around the lake - details are in a separate post.


The night was clear. Lots of stars again. A wisp of a cloud off in the distance. It was warm, so I kept the fly off my tent so that I could be as close to nature as possible. For the *Adventure*.

Again, no noise. Very odd. Very still and silent. Except for one time, a bird let out a huge "CAW". It was so loud that I swear it was a super-dinosaur bird right at my campsite! I swear!

Nothing for the rest of the night. Until the pre-dawn cacophony of birds. All those years, nestled quietly in my house, I had no idea that birds can be so noisy BEFORE the sun comes up ...

Sunday .... ooops, the weather has changed
Crawled out of my tent on Sunday morning to find an enormously cloudy sky, looking like it would downpour at any minute. Realized then that I need to learn more about weather patterns, as I had no clue the night before that it was going to rain. And I didn't have my tent fly on - that would've been *fun* taking care of that in the dark and rain.


Sleeping in the Rain
I walked down to & around the lake, took photos, read & wrote a bit. About 8:30am, it started raining. I wasn't in the mood to pack up in the rain, so I put the fly on my tent, threw my sleeping bag  & pillows back in, and settled in my tent for a nap in the rain.

Have you even slept outdoors in the rain??? Oh my gosh - It was the best nap I've ever had. If I wasn't hooked on sleeping outdoors before, I was then.

A very pleasant, relaxing experience. About as safe as one could be. Not a primitive experience, but an opportunity to at least be outdoors as much as possible. On the way home, I went bike riding -- and that's when it occurred to me that camping can be even more than the solitude of nature, it's also a base from which to do other fun stuff outdoors! Less driving!

Merit Badge / Skills
-- Almost flunked on the tent-assembly skill, but got it up, and got the fly on. But a *star* for knowing what the footprint was this time, and using it.
-- No attempt at a campfire ...

[After that trip, I decided to invest in a slightly bigger tent. One that had more "substance" to it, so I would be a little safer from dinosaur-birds (lol!) and I'd have more room if I had to stay in the tent all day in bad weather. I ended up with a REI Mountain-3 tent, which I dearly love. My home-away-from-home.]

My Gear List
Sticking with Minimalism. Well, except for the bag of personal care items.
  • Shelter: tent, fly, footprint
  • Bed: sleeping bag, and a pillow from home. :)
  • Other Essentials: headlamp; flashlight; mini-compass/whistle; map
  • Bathroom: toilet paper, wipes, spade
  • Personal Care: woah! Knowing there'd be a bath house and I could put anything that I wanted in my car ... well, I've ended up with a tote bag of: soap, washcloth & towel, toothpaste & toothbrush, facial moisturizer, body moisturizer, feet-pampering supplies, shampoo & conditioner, nail clipper. I think the list goes on & on.
  • First Aid: band-aids
  • Food: Still just cold-food supplies: sandwich-type items; yogurt; fruit and nut snack stuff. On Sunday morning, I was really wishing for a cup of coffee -again. ... Brought a jug or two of water.
  • Clothing: the basic hiking/outdoor stuff and outerwear
  • Hiking/Biking Gear: hiking shoes; camelbak. Bike, helmet, tools, pump, shoes, etc.
  • Downtime Amusement: my Kindle; brought other hiking books to plan more adventures
Notes about the Gear:
  • I loved being able to bike ride while on my Adventure. But the bike and gear takes up a lot of space in the car & generates just more stuff to move around when packing, setting up, and dismantling
  • Pillows: sweet!

Hike: Savage Park - local!

Good gracious! Another local park, with beautiful trails, that I knew nothing about. How have I missed out on all this???

This is another great spot to go to on my own. Today was with a group. But pace was still a bit tough for me; no map; no idea of where I was going. I feel much more comfortable if I know where I'm at.

Hike: Return to Oregon Ridge

Joined up with a different group this week-end: an all women's group. The scheduled hike was: Oregon Ridge! It was a lot of fun to be with a new group of people, in a park that I was familiar with. (If you can count being familiar with a park, based on one previous hike ... but hey, it helps. Like, I knew where the bathroom is!)

The weather was dramatically better than the 90+ temps of the hike a few weeks prior. And the pace was more casual. A delightful day!

Hike: Rockburn Area

Hiking with a local group - took several trails in & around Patapsco Valley State Park. The pace was a bit fast for me; I didn't have a map; likely would never be able to retrace where I went. (???)

But it was a new experience for me! and fun. Loving the whole idea of exploring local areas. There's a world of nature practically in my back yard and I've been missing out on it.

Hike: Oregon Ridge / 1st time at the park!

Kickstart, Part 2.

A dream of mine is to go back to Crested Butte, Colorado. I have fond memories of the incredibly blue sky; the fields of wildflowers; the golden aspen trees; the Rocky Mountains framing every view; and the fantastic trails. But to fully experience it again, I need to be in shape.

I joined up with a local group, with the goal of increasing my distance, speed, (i.e. fitness level) and learning of new trails with an experienced group.

Today was my first trip to Oregon Ridge park. Amazing I had never been there, because it's So Close!

The hike was fun; the trails were great; but it was a brutally hot day. After about 2 or 3 miles, the heat drained everyone. We all lagged. It wasn't a whole lot of fun. But, I'll definitely return another time.

A Gap in My Outdoor Adventures

OK .. so my first grand adventure was awesome. But somehow, life took a turn. And I ended up not being outdoors for the rest of the spring and summer - other adventures in life; a broken ankle; and an awfully hot summer.

First & Solo Camping Expedition, aka: What Was I Thinking???

My First Camping Adventure - off to the Great Unknown

So ... my grand sense of adventure got a much needed kick-in-the-butt during a conversation with the girl who cuts my hair. She's goofy, crazy, and does the most fun stuff. She tells me all about her camping, ATVing, and partying adventures in West Virginia. It sounds like so much fun. I've always wanted to try camping. But it's always been "one day". Well, I'm running out of "one day"s.

So on that particular Thursday, I decided "one day" had arrived. "One day" was "NOW!"

That evening I did an eentsy bit of research and selected Greenridge State Forest for my first adventure. I had mountain biked there; so it was somewhat familiar. (Uhh, yeah - that was like two decades ago.) And it was far enough away to count as an *Adventure*.

On Friday, I headed to REI to buy some supplies. Well, ... like a tent. ... And a sleeping bag. I wasn't going to let the fact that I didn't own any camping gear stop me; or the fact that I knew nothing about camping.

Hardly able to sleep, early Saturday morning I packed my car with my new camping gear; filled a cooler with cold foods and snacks; and off I went.

I ended up with a campsite that was beautiful, definitely in the woods!, fairly isolated but on a dirt road that ran through the park so periodically other people would drive by (comforting). Down the road just a bit lived a family who, on Sunday, showed me pictures of a bear mama wandering on the property [aagh!]

I spent the first day walking around the park a bit, reading while sitting on the back of my car, and eating snacks. And I easily got the tent set up -- well, it had been only a few hours ago that I had learned how to assemble it.

The rangers on each shift came by a few times. One insisted that I should learn how to make a campfire. But I was so tired, all I wanted to do was sleep - not work on a fire.

Nighttime: what a fabulous experience!
1) I didn't hear a thing. Nothing. The night was so still. No critters. No bears :0. Not even wind through the trees.

2) Did I mention that I embarked on this adventure during the second week of April? It was an unseasonably warm day when I left, in the 60s. But at night, the temps dropped to the 30s. I wasn't quite prepared for the cold [understatement] ... About 3:00am, I bailed on the tent and got in my car to warm up. That's when I saw ..

3) The STARS! Oh my gosh, the sky was peppered with glitter! Seeing the dark shadowy shapes of the tall, tall, pine trees with the diamond sparkles sprinkled amongst them - what a gorgeous sight! I was hooked. (That is, after I warmed up. I was marveling at the stars in the comfort of my running, heated car. Note to Self: always fill up the gas tank before settling into the campground. )

Warmed up, I eventually crawled back into the tent and slept the next few hours, only to be awakened by NOISE. All the noise that didn't happen during the night -- happened pre-dawn. I think every bird in the universe was waking up, flying overhead, and cawing to their friends. But experiencing the sunrise, early morning mist, and the solitude of nature was an amazing experience.

On Sunday, I took a hike; one that the trailhead was near my site. I sorta got lost, but carefully reviewing my park map, I realized I was on a fire road that would take me back to a "main" road in the park. So I got my way back. On the way back to my site is when I met the family who showed me all the bear pictures.

In the afternoon, I packed up and headed home.

Merit Badge/Skill: Setting Up a Tent
Well, it was pretty easy to get the tent up. And the fly. But I had no idea what the other item in the little tote bag was - What is a "Footprint"??? So I didn't use it. Apparently the footprint should go down first, and lies under the tent. It protects damaging the fabric of the tent from the rocks etc but also provides a layer of protection from the cold of the ground. Maybe I would've been warmer if I had used that; doubt it though .... And later on in time, I learned about air mats. I didn't have one of those on this trip either.

Safely Back At Home
It wasn't til I was safe & warm at home & in my own bed, that I thought: WHAT DID I JUST DO???

Looking back, I realized some of the things that could've gone wrong simply because I didn't know better:

  • If a bear had come by, I knew I should make a lot of noise. But really, when I was in my tent, I didn't have anything to make any noise with ..
  • Hiking by myself with no one else around - I could've got seriously hurt. I had no supplies with me to last in the woods until I was found. I guess the rangers may have figured out what trail I was on, but I hadn't told anyone
  • I really didn't have enough safety stuff, gear, knowledge.
  • Maybe there really is something to what I've heard: "It's the other people you need to worry about." And here I was just randomly sleeping by myself in the middle of the woods, next to a dirt road.

But I survived. More than survived. I had a ball. It felt so good to have an adventure. The experience of such immense solitude in nature, the beauty of the sky and woods, and the sounds of the real world, was incomparable. And addicting. And I loved getting away quickly, with just the bare essentials.

My Gear List
Minimalism? or Clueless-ness?

  • Shelter: tent, fly. And that footprint thing that I didn't know what it was.
  • Bed: sleeping bag
  • Other Essentials: headlamp (newly purchased); a flashlight from home; mini-compass/whistle; map of the park
  • Bathroom: learned to make a cat-hole; used the great outdoors. Brought toilet paper and a garden spade for digging potty hole.
  • Personal Care: since this was a quick, overnight trip, I don't think I brought anything else ...
  • First Aid: band-aids
  • Food: sandwich-type supplies; yogurt; fruit and nut snack stuff. On Sunday morning, I was really wishing for a cup of coffee ... Brought a jug or two of water.
  • Clothing: the basic hiking/outdoor stuff and outerwear
  • Hiking Gear: hiking shoes; camelbak
  • Downtime Amusement: my Kindle
  • Loved the headlamp! Especially in my tent as well as in the middle of the night for "bathroom" excursion.
  • The Kindle was super-handy to have; tons of reading material without packing a lot of stuff.
  • Need to work on sleeping arrangements; since I got so cold.